paean - (PEE-uhn) A song of praise or triumph, often a hymn. (See also panegyric, hymn)
paeon - (PEE-ohn) A metrical foot of four syllables, one long and three short ( , ( ( ( ). The location of the long syllable results in four types of paeon called variously primus ( , ( ( ( ), secundus ( ( , ( ( ), tertius ( ( , ( ) or quartus ( ( ( ( , ) paeon.
palimpsest - Historically a papyrus or parchment which has been recycled, and while the original is erased the lines often show through. Also used to describe a writing exercise in which a poem is selected and three or four new lines are written for each line of the original; finally the original poem is deleted leaving a new work which reinterprets the original.
palindrome - A word or sequence of words which reads the same either forwards or backwards. As in "Madam, Im Adam."
palinode - A poem in which the poet retracts or contradicts something written in an earlier poem.
panegyric - (pan-uh-GI-rik) An elaborate formal poem of praise for a person or thing. (See also encomium, paean)
pantoum - A poem which uses lines repeated in a fixed order. In the first four-line stanza, the rhyme is abab. The second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated to form the first and third lines of the succeeding stanzas while the third line of the first stanza becomes the second line of the final stanza and the first line becomes the final line of the final stanza.
paradox - A contradiction or statement which does not make sense until thought of in a different way. Popes phrase "...damn with faint praise" is an example of paradox. (See also enallage, malapropism, mixed metaphor, oxymoron)
paragoge - (pa-ruh-GO-gee) The accretion during the evolution of the language of an extra final letter as in peasant from the French paysan.
parallelism - The arrangement of the parts of a piece of writing in harmonious counterbalance, one element parallel as it were to another. It is particularly evident in the Bible as in Isaiah 40:4: "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
parenthesis - A slight digression in a narrative, often to provide more information, usually indicated by the use of punctuation such as brackets or a dash.
Parnassian - Of or about or related to poetry. Parnassus is the Greek mountain which was the home to the Muses and Apollo. (See also Muse, afflatus, numen, helicon)
parody - A humorous imitation for ridicule or comic effect of anothers writing or style. (See also irony, lampoon, mock-epic, satire, pastiche)
paronomasia - (par-ruh-nuh-MAY-zyah) The same as pun, in other words the use of the same word in different senses or similar sounding words used against each other for contrast. (See also pun)
paronym - A word which is derived from another.
pasquinade - Satirical writing. Named after Pasquino, a 15th century Italian shopkeeper known for his satirical wit. (See also satire, lampoon, parody)
pastiche - An effort to imitate another work of art. (See also parody)
pastoral poetry - Traditionally this had a romanticised view of shepherds and country life, but the term now applies to anything to do with rural life. (See also idyll, bucolic, Arcadia)
pastourelle - French form of romanticised pastoral poetry. (See also pastoral poetry)
pathetic fallacy - Assigning human traits or emotions to inanimate objects, often done to show a reflection of the writers state of mind. The term was introduced by John Ruskin. (See also personification)
pathos - An attempt - often successful - to evoke pity, sorrow or compassion. (See also bathos)
pattern poetry - Sometimes called shape poems. Poetry laid out on a page in such a way as to create a picture of the poems subject. Earlier versions of pattern poems were called emblem poems. (See also emblem poems, shape poems, concrete verse, visual poetry)
pause - See caesura.
pentameter - A line of verse containing five metrical feet. (See also metre, feet)
perfect rhyme - A rhyme which has an exact match in the end vowel or consonant sounds and is accented on the rhyming syllables. It is also important that the consonant sounds preceding the vowel do not match; if they do the words will sound identical and the result will be a rime riche. (See also end rhyme, feminine rhyme, internal rhyme, masculine rhyme, rime riche)
periphrasis - (puh-RIFF-ruh-sis) This occurs when an elaborate word or phrase is used in place of a simple one. For example "On the throne" as a euphemism for using the lavatory. (See also euphemism)
persona - The voice of a poem, its viewpoint, that is to say, its apparent author. Although this is usually the poet, in some cases the poet may adopt another persona to obtain an effect, often ironic. The word is derived from the Latin word for mask. (See also irony)
personification - The attribution of human characteristics to an animal, object or intangible quality, creating a metaphor. (See also metaphor, pathetic fallacy)
Petrarchan sonnet - (puh-TRAR-kuhn) A sonnet form used by Petrarch in the twelfth century. It consists of an octave (eight-line stanza) rhyming abbaabba followed by a sextet (six-line stanza) rhymed cdecde (some variants use cdccdc) to complete the sonnet. It is often a question in the first part and an answer in the second, or a natural occurrence in the first part and a human analogy in the second. (See also octave, sestet, sonnet)
phonetic symbolism - Using words with similar sounds to suggest a common association; for example words beginning gl in English are often associated with light, as in glitter, glow, glint, etc. Often called sound symbolism. (See also onomatopoeia, sound devices)
picaresque - A story showing a friendly or well-meaning rogue. As in The Saint by Leslie Chateriss.
Pierian (pie-AIR-yan) A word used to describe writing which is poetic. Occasionally broadened to include all arts. Named after a region in Thessaly where the Muses were worshipped. (See also Parnassian, Muse)
Pindaric verse A poem intended for singing, named after the poet Pindar who is known through his epinicia. Dorian and choric odes are also names given to this type of verse. (See also encomium, epinicion, sapphic verse, strophe, antistrophe, epode, ode)
play on words - See pun
Pleiad - Group of 16th century French poets including Du Bellay and Ronsard, who set out to restore classical values to French poetry.
pleonasm - The use of words which are redundant, or more words than are necessary to describe something. (See also tautology)
ploce - (PLOE-si) Refers to the close repetition of a word to achieve emphasis or to broaden its meaning. As in "A friend is a friend forever." This figure of speech can be divided into four different types, which are epanalepsis, epizeuxis, antanaclasis and polyptoton. (See also epanalepsis, epizeuxis, antanaclasis, polyptoton)
poem A generally rhythmic form of expression, often containing metaphor, metre and rhyme, and usually recognised by the way in which lines are predominantly the form of construction as opposed to sentences and paragraphs in prose, and also by the way they are arranged on a page. The manner in which the lines are condensed is also important as the ideas are more tightly expressed than in prose.
poems of chance - Words written down randomly without an attempt to create a logical structure or association. A form used by the dadaistic and surrealistic poets. It is also known as automatic writing.
poesy - The writing of mechanical or oversentimental poems. A term of derision.
poet - A person who writes poetry. (See also bard)
poet laureate - A poet who is held in esteem and appointed by the sovereign to promote poetry and write for important state occasions. (See also occasional poems)
poetaster - An inferior writer of poetry. (See also poesy, doggerel)
poetic licence - An excuse often used for weak writing or syntax inversions in poetry or prose meaning "anything goes".
poetics - The study of poetic theory or aesthetics. (See also prosody)
poeticule - Someone who writes poetry irregularly and has not practised sufficiently to improve his/her poetry. (See also poesy, doggerel, poetaster)
poetry - A word used to describe poems. (See poem)
Poets Corner - A part of Westminster Abbey where a number of prominent poets are buried and memorials have been erected.
polyphonic prose - Free verse laid out as prose, but clearly using poetic devices such as assonance and alliteration. Sometimes applied to writing intended as prose but which has poetic characteristics.
polyptoton - (pol-ip-TOE-tuhn) A ploce, which occurs when different forms of the same word are used in close proximity. (See also epanalepsis, epizeuxis, antanaclasis, ploce)
polyrhythmic verse - Free verse which uses various rhythms for contrast.
polysyllable - A word of more than three syllables. (See also disyllable, monosyllable, trisyllable)
polysyndeton - The repetition of a number of conjunctions in close proximity, usually to develop a rhythm or list in a poem.
portmanteau word - An artificial word made by combining two others. An example is Roger McGoughs "scafoldills" used to describe scaffolding which had been decorated with pictures of daffodils, at the time of the Popes visit to Liverpool in 1971. (See also neologism, nonce word)
poulters measure - A metre consisting of lines of twelve and fourteen syllables alternately. The name is reputed to have derived from the habit of poultry dealers giving several extra eggs (making fourteen) in every dozen sold. (See also heptameter, septenarius)
proceleusmatic - Also called tetrabrach, it is a metrical foot of four short syllables ( ( ( ( ( ).
procephalic - An extra syllable in the first foot of a line of verse. An ancient form. (See also anacrusis, hypercatalectic)
prolepsis - A figure of speech in which a later state of affairs is anticipated, e.g. Hamlet declaring, "Horatio, I am dead," before his demise.
prose - Written language in which the sentence and the paragraph are the primary units of construction.
prose poem - Laid out as prose in sentences and paragraphs (usually), but using the poetic devices of rhythm and compression.
prosody - The name applied to the study of poetry and its structure and forms. Now used as a generic term when discussing aspects of poetry.
prosopopeia - (prose-uh-puh-PEE-uh) The introduction of an imagined person into conversation. (See also personification)
protagonist - A character in a piece of fiction who is the principle focus of the story, often but not always the hero. (See also antagonist)
prothalamium - poem recited or sung in honour of a bride and groom before their wedding. (See also encomium)
proverb - A brief epigram of popular origin encompassing a truth or useful advice. As in "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush". (See also allegory, aphorism, fable, gnome)
pun - A figure of speech making different meanings from a word in a sentence or using two words which sound the same to humorous effect. (See also ambiguity)
punctuation - All of the devices used to divide writing into formal units and assist with understanding, for example full stops, commas.
pyrrhic - The adjective from pyrrhus, a metrical foot used mainly in ancient Greek poetry of two short or unaccented syllables ( ( ( ).
pyrrhus - A unit of pyrrhic verse. (See also pyrrhic)